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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul:American Pie With a Twist



Thought for the Day: I'm still on vacation mode. I skipped posting #FF Friday's Fabulous Finds yesterday & today I'm having trouble getting a video to upload from YouTube. I hope you will forgive me for simply posting a link to a very funny Thanksgivica parody video to the tune of American Pie.  I think Don McLean would like this interpretation of his song. Although the Chanuka countdown sale of my book benefiting Menorah Park is over (you can still get the book and donate 1/2 of the profits to Menorah Park), I thought this video was fitting for today.

So here's the link to the parody:

A funny Thanksgivica video   http://youtu.be/QXsxCohQNT8

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thursday: How A Mechanic Made My Day


Here's a post from last year. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thought for the Day: On Thanksgiving we come together with family and friends & give thanks for all the wonderful things we have in life. Many of the people we are thankful for are obvious. It is good not to simply take them for granted. Today, however, I want to give a special thanks to someone who often would not be on people's Thanksgiving list, their auto mechanics. Many people feel ripped off and doubt the service of mechanics. The less you know about the workings of a car, the easier it is for them to take them for an "expensive ride." I am one of those people who doesn't know too much about cars. I have learned over the years, but leave most of the decisions to my partner, Jerry, who loves cars and is knowledgeable. Because of jerry I even listen to Car Talk and sometimes watch Motor Week which Jerry watches religiously on Public Television. First, let me say, we buy older cars, usually Toyotas, which we literally run into the ground. It's one of the ways we save the environment from scrap metal car cemeteries! We also were lucky to have discovered Tommy at Fort Point Phoenix Auto Repair in Norwalk when we first moved to CT in 2000. My trusty red Toyota (198? the only car I ever bought brand new) was having trouble passing the emissions test since the requirements were stricter in CT than in Massachusetts. Tommy helped us do what was needed without spending an arm and a leg to pass the test.

Yesterday, was a very busy day for me. In addition to seeing clients, doing billing, writing a blog in my Thanksgivica series (SaturdayMonday, Tuesday, Wednesday), preparing for rapidly approaching December events for The Blind Judo Foundation, packing clothes and the car, so that I could leave before the worst traffic, I had to do some last minute shopping. I got up early and was excited that the car was packed, my writing and billing work was done by 11 AM. I could do some shopping before seeing a client at 1 PM. I was in and out of the store in about 20 minutes which meant I had time to go to Foot Heaven Spa, another great find in Norwalk CT. I was going to indulge for the 1st time since my knee operation in an amazing 1/2 hour foot massage. However, when I got back into my car my good planing came to a screeching halt. My car would not start!

I almost called AAA, but first, I called Jerry. We decided I should call Tommy. When Tommy's number was busy, I feared that what seemed like a well organized day was going rapidly downhill. I was stranded in parking lot with a car packed for travel on the busiest travel day of the year! When I got through, Tommy listened, asked a couple of questions and diagnosed the problem over the phone. He told me what to do to start the car and that i should come to him, if I was able to start it. I'm embarrassed to report that I had to call Jerry to help me find the lever that releases the hood (I knew where it was, but usually just watch him do it and couldn't identify the latch under the hood.) Once the hood was open,  I followed Tommy's instructions, jiggled the connections to the battery and started my car.

Once I reached the garage, Tommy came right out, tightened the connection to the battery and sent me on my way, no charge. When I asked him if he had a website or e-mail, he said he has an e-mail, but doesn't read it much & that a client had put something up for him on the internet. I told him I would be writing about his shop,  thanked him and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving.

This is not the 1st time he has helped us diagnose a problem over the phone or fix something without any charge. When something needs repair, we know he is honest. He tries to save us money whenever he can. Within minutes, I was on my way. I even had time to get the foot massage and be back home by 1PM. The only thing that did not go as planned was that Jerry got stuck in the city when one of his students had a meltdown. By the time we were able to travel to be with family, the traffic was surprisingly light.

So on this high travel weekend, remember to give thanks to the mechanics who keep our cars running so that we can maintain our lifestyle and visit with family and friends near and far. Happy Thanksgiving and Chanukah to those of you who celebrate Chanukah. (The Chanukah Countdown sale is still running supporting Menorah Park.)



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Eleanor Roosevelt on Dreams







Thought for the Day: As I have been hurrying to get ready for Thanksgiving & Chanukah, I made a number of photo ads for social media for the Thanksgivica sale that is going on this week. One of them was the photo from today's words of wisdom with a quote I love from Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Her quotes and wisdom have always resonated with me. She was a liberated feminist long before women's liberation. I am thankful for her wisdom that lives on. I believe she would be proud of women's progress but encouraging us all to continue moving forward for greater equality and accomplishments of our dreams. have a Happy Thanksgiving & Chanukah!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday's Psychology Trivia: Are You Paralyzed When You Dream?


Thought for the Day: As you may know, I encourage people to Wake Up and Dream. Today's trivia fact makes it clear why learning how to Wake Up and Dream is a much better way to accomplish your dreams and aspirations. In fact, when you are dreaming, during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, the rest of your body is paralyzed. Neurotransmitters shut down your large muscles so that they do not move. (Sleep walkers have a neurological disorder which allows them to move during sleep.)

If you are interested in learning to wake up and dream, my book, The Wake Up and Dream Challenge is on sale this week & benefitting Menorah Park Center for Senior Living.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Miraculous Mondays: Psychotherapy: Miracle or Science?


Thought for the Day: As some of you know, I have been giving a lot of thought to the convergence of Chanukah & Thanksgiving lately (Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Chanukah Dayenu for a Good Cause and  David Letterman Style Top 10 SignsYou’re Holding the Perfect Chanukah Gift). What you don't know is that I have also been thinking about writing a new book. The new book idea and the thoughts about the holidays' meaning, like Chanukah & Thanksgiving collided for me this morning. My new book, which is still searching for a title, will share techniques I've used over the years that have helped clients heal broken marriages. Sometimes these techniques seem to work like miracles, surprising both me and the clients. Thinking about Chanukah & Thanksgiving alongside thoughts of therapeutic "miracles" brought me to questions about the convergence of art and science in psychotherapy. Psychology would like to seen as a pure evidence based science; however, the miraculous, creative, artistic side of psychology and psychotherapy is hard to quantify. How can emotions, like love, hope, anger and therapeutic changes be quantified? I went to a lecture this weekend called "The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing but The Truth," where the topic of miracles was discussed. A woman got up and announced she not only believed in miracles, she has learned to depend on them. She also disclosed that she was a recovered alcoholic who has learned to believe in herself, religion and miracles in AA. I am not a religious person and am more of a sceptic than this woman when it comes to miracles, however, there are times when clients come in a week after a therapeutic intervention & something has changed quite dramatically. Those are the moments I plan to report in this new book I am thinking about.
       Have you as a client or therapist experienced or observed one of these therapeutic miracles? If you have, I would love to hear from you. What happened? How do you explain the transformation that therapy helped make happen? 

Today, I'd like to start a series that will tell the story (edited to protect their privacy, but based on real people) of one couple's "miracle" in therapy. 
Here's the 1st installment:
       Nothing appeared to be working in Henry & Linda's marriage. Linda, an attractive, college educated woman grew up in a devout Catholic home. She was, however, a rebel who accepted some of the spiritual lessons & believes in God, but practices only parts of the religious dictates. So, you might call her a reform Catholic. She met Henry, who grew up in a totally nonobservant Catholic family on Match.com.
        After a fairly lengthy online courtship, followed by a long distance relationship, Henry and Linda spent time together and decided to get married. Linda was an independent creative professional who had managed both her own and other small restaurants. Henry, the first son of an Irish immigrant family to complete college is finishing specialized training in international law. When Linda became pregnant, she decided to stop working to care for their son. Although Linda loves being a mother, she misses the life of an independent working woman.
         Henry works full time and takes courses at night an Ivy League college. When he is home, he is constantly preparing for school. In addition, Henry has developed an interest in his Catholicism and attends church on weekends. Linda, on the other hand, has drifted away from her religious upbringing. Before they came for therapy, feeling lonely and craving some adult conversation, she started going out, meeting with both male and female single friends at night. She is not an alcoholic, but enjoys having a couple of drinks with friends. She has not gone to church for some time, has nothing to confess there and resents Henry pressuring her to go to church and confessional. Henry is anxious about her behavior, since she has been coming home late and they seem to be drifting apart.
     In initial sessions, I ask clients, "If a miracle happened and therapy cured you overnight, what would be different? How would you know that therapy had worked?" Later, I always tell them that therapy does not work overnight. With couples, I usually ask them to give therapy at least a few months to see if their marriage is getting better. If it is moving in the right direction, they will know whether they can fix the problems that brought them or not. Successful marital therapy does not always end in healing the marriage. Sometimes it helps people decide whether they should stay together or separate. At times, I am surprised by the outcomes. There are couples who could barely sit in the same room without screaming at one another who are living together in harmony; while other couples who seemed to have more rapport have been unable to work things out.
       If you'd like to hear more about what Henry and Linda thought their "miracle cure" would look like and about an intervention which made a significant difference, come back next week on Miraculous Monday. Have a great week.

If you would like to get a copy of my book, for 60% off and support menorah Park's D.R.E.A.M. Program click here.
        

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday"s Comic Strips: Free Range Children


Thought for the Day: May your children always be "free range" children! Have a great end of the weekend!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Chanukah Dayenu for a Good Cause



Thought for the Day: Today's song is a bit different. It is my competition to Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song. Although it is also a blatant advertisement for a Chanukah Countdown Sale for my book on Amazon, I hope you will see the humor, enjoy it, & share it with all your friends & family. I wanted to have a group of senior citizens from Menorah Park sing it, but did not have time to pull it off. Instead you have my feeble singing, just imagine a group of seniors singing it instead!

There is a serious side to this effort, as well, or you would not hear me singing! Whether you just share the video or buy the book, you will be doing a Mitzvah (Good Deed) as well. Menorah Park Center for Senior Living in Beachwood OH's  D.R.E.A.M. program really makes a difference in the lives of people in their 70's, 80's & 90's. They have helped a legally blind 94 year old artist, Hy Snell, just 2 years ago by setting up an exhibit & press coverage. Now he is getting recognition from around the world. They also helped Ruth Eisner, zl., may her memory be a blessing, launch an acting career at the age of 88 making the last few years of her life truly golden. I am hoping that when people hear about Menorah Park's program it will become a shining example to other senior living facilities & start a new trend in care for the elderly.

The Chanukah Countdown Sale is going on from noon (EST) today for one week on Amazon. The sooner you purchase the book, the more you save from 30 - 50% off the retail price of $9.95). You or your gift recipient do not need to own a Kindle to download the book to your computer, ipad or smart phone. Just download the free app on the Amazon Kindle site. You can gift it to anyone who has an e-mail address. So if you are looking for gifts for this holiday I hope you will consider taking advantage of this sale & helping Menorah Park at the same time. Click here to purchase the book now.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday's Psychology Trivia Answer: At What Age Do Humans Have the Largest Number of Brain Cells?


Thought for the Day: I must remind myself to spend more time researching my trivia facts before posting the question. On Tuesday, I asked:
 At what age humans have the largest number of brain cells?                a) 5 years old                b) 45 years old                c) 30 years old                d) 2 years old                e) 18 years old
The answer, d) 2 years old, was based on a fact I found a while ago on Likes.com which said:
Humans have more brain cells at the age of two than at any other time of their lives. What happens then, is the brain kills off the cells it deems unnecessary for the future. When people are telling you that the first couple years of a kid's life are their most important, they aren't really lying!

After I posted it, a follower,  Enaa Aussen from google+, wrote:
Yesterday 12:39 PM
 
at about 14

not 5 or 45

unless u are meaning the insulation cells and blood vessels too....
then its gonna be maybe 30 to 40...
Read more
Barbara Lavi
Yesterday 12:43 PM
 
+Enaa Aussen Come back tomorrow for the answer. Thanks for guessing
Enaa Aussen
Yesterday 1:03 PM
 
i wasn't guessing....
i am an md
my mum is a neurobiologist....
her bf is a psychiatrist...
we discuss this kind of stuff since i was 8
So I began to question the oversimplified fact I found on Likes.com. I should have known better, since I continuously tell you that there is really no trivial psychology. There are multiple interpretations of most "facts" in the field.

So here are a few quotes from articles about the development of the human brain:
In an article called, Children and Brain Development: What We Know About How Children LearnJudith Graham, Extension human development specialist & Leslie A. Forstadt, Ph.D. Child and Family Development Specialist write that, 
"At birth, a baby’s brain contains 100 billion neurons, roughly as many nerve cells as there are stars in the Milky Way, and almost all the neurons the brain will ever have. The brain starts forming prenatally, about three weeks after conception. Before birth, the brain produces trillions more neurons and “synapses” (connections between the brain cells) than it needs. During the first years of life, the brain undergoes a series of extraordinary changes.In the brain, the neurons are there at birth, as well as some synapses. As the neurons mature, more and more synapses are made. At birth, the number of synapses per neuron is 2,500, but by age two or three, it’s about 15,000 per neuron. The brain eliminates connections that are seldom or never used, which is a normal part of brain development."
In an answer to the question, "Are You Born With All Your Brain Cells Or Do You Grow New Ones?" Pasko Rakdic, Professor of Neuroscience and Neurology at the Kavli Institute at Yale University writes that:
"Shortly after birth in humans, a substantial number of new nerve cells are produced and added to brain regions called the cerebellum, olfactory bulb, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. But by age 2, neurogenesis in most of these regions disappears except in the hippocampus — a region involved in learning and memory. This may be the only location in the brain where new cells are added throughout one’s lifetime. ...The fact that the majority of our neurons are as old as we are might be what allows us to remember our history and build civilization."
FAQ Zero to Three http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/brain-development/faqs-on-the-brain.html#experience
In FAQ on ZerotoThree.org's page an explanation of pruning of neurons around age 2 is given in this way:
"Those (Neurons) that are consistently turned on over time will be strengthened, while those that are rarely excited may be dropped away. Or, as neuroscientists sometimes say, "Cells that fire together, wire together." The elimination of unused neural circuits, also referred to as "pruning," may sound harsh, but it is generally a good thing. It streamlines children's neural processing, making the remaining circuits work more quickly and efficiently. Without synaptic pruning, children wouldn't be able to walk, talk, or even see properly."

So although at age 2 years we may have the largest number of brain cells,  it does not account for the growth of connections & synapses between brain cells which continue at a rapid rate in early childhood into adolescence. There are also findings that some parts of the brain continue to grow cells throughout our lives albeit at a much slower pace. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: The 3 Rules of Life


Thought for the Day: On Wednesdays, share quotes. In searching for quotes I sometimes come across anonymous quotes that I like to change & give my own spin to them. Today's quote, in the picture above, is one that I compiled by putting 2 different anonymous quotes together, so I guess it is mine. Let me know what you think of it. It may be over simplistic, but to some degree it may be a recipe for happiness.

           There are only 3 Rules in Life
                   Rule #1 Do what makes YOU happy
                   Rule #2 Don't Quit
                   Rule #3 Repeat Rule #1 & #2

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday's Psychology Trivia Question: When Do Humans Have the Largest Number of Brain Cells?


Thought for the Day: Today's psychology trivia question has to do with the development of the brain. Here goes:

           At what age humans have the largest number of brain cells?
                a) 5 years old
                b) 45 years old
                c) 30 years old
                d) 2 years old
                e) 18 years old

Come back on Thursday for the answer.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flashback Motivational Monday: 4 Creative Ways to Solve Problems & Stay Motivated


Thought for the Day: Since I am visiting with friends from Canada today, I decided to repost this Motivational Monday post from last March, when I started this blog series of motivational posts. Have a great start to the week.

Thought for the Day: My daughter sent me an image of an anonymous inspirational quote on facebook this week which said, "when nothing goes right... go left." She sends me quotes & images when she finds one that she thinks I might want to use in my blog or on my facebook page (where I post creative images & quotes). I loved the quote which came in simple black ink on white background (see photo on right). However,  I felt I needed to expand on it. The image above begins to give my take on how I help people explore all the options when nothing seems to be going right. I decided to use it to offer four tips to help you find alternatives when nothing seems to be going right. Feel free to ask questions about my new quote: "when nothing is going right to go left, up, down, around, under & anyway you can to make things work better. - Dr. Barbara Lavi"

Creativity plays an integral part in my therapeutic approach, which I call A.C.T. Now Psychotherapy. The "A" stands for "Active," the "C" for "Creative," & the "T," for "Time Sensitive." Even though it is one third of the equation, in many ways the "C" is the most important element in my approach.  Our society has an ambivalent relationship with creativity. On the one hand we love music, art & photography. The huge success of facebook YouTube are evidence of the love affair we have with photos, videos & music. However, the number of starving artists eking out a living in odd jobs attests to the fact that we do not reward artists well unless they become famous. How many people are discouraged from following their creative muse when they choose a career? In school certain types of creativity are not rewarded either. The emphasis on rote learning, multiple choice & true or false testing reflects this tendency.

It is not surprising, therefore, that many people lose touch with creative problem solving skills & do not have access to them when confronting problems in life. The original quote even fits the solution into one of two options: right or left. So here are a few creative problem solving tips:

1) There is not one right answer to problems we confront in life. In reality even the way the quote is set up reflects a mistaken notion we are taught to believe. It is an over simplification to think of life in terms of "right" or "wrong." There are endless "right" ways to live our lives. What may be right for one person may not be right for you or someone else. We must each find what feels right to us. There could be many different "right" ways to live for each of us. Every problem therefore,  has multiple possible solutions.

Often when we feel like everything is going wrong, it is a sign of some depression. Depression makes us even more likely to think that there are no possible alternatives. When we feel depressed we also tend to get stuck, become inactive & reclusive. Other times, we keep repeating behaviors that are not working. The first step to getting out of these viscous cycles is to use our creative minds to imagine several alternative possibilities. Try coming up with at least 3 or 4 different ways you might try to solve the problem.

2) As you begin to fantasize about these possibilities, fire your inner dream buster. Your dream buster is the critic inside your head that says, "You don't have the money, skills, connections, health (& endless other excuses) to accomplish that solution." Even if you doubt that you can accomplish these alternatives, ignore the critic's negative voice & write them down.

3) Pick one of these possible new directions & come up with 3 or 4 action steps to explore how you could start taking baby steps toward starting in the new direction.

4) Try a few of the action steps. For instance, if you are unhappy in your current job, but afraid to leave in today's difficult job market, You can go on monster.com & begin to search for jobs in your field to see what is out there. Or you could call someone you know who left your company & is now employed elsewhere to find out how they are doing & whether they are hiring. If an option feels right, keep pursuing it, if not, try another one of the other options till you find one that fits & works for you. Or go back to step one & try again till you find a new direction.

In subsequent posts, I'll tell you about some additional creative techniques that can help in situations like these. I will share stories of how my clients developed these kind of creative skills & moved in directions they did not imagine were possible before they started in therapy or read my book. I hope you will share your stories of ways you found new directions when you felt stuck in the past.

Have a great start to the week! I hope you will come back on Wednesday for What If? Wednesdays short video on what would happen if we changed things to improve the world. In case you missed it, there are now 2 weekend feeds: Saturdays Songs for the Soul & Sunday's Comic Strips. Coming soon new Tuesday & Thursday posts with some fun twists, so stay come back often, follow the blog, put it in an RSS feed or get e-mail notification when posts come out!



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday's Comics Strips: Clever No Parking Sign


Thought for the Day: On Sundays, I try to take it easy & bring back a bit of the joy I had growing up reading the Sunday comics. I have not searched for funny photos for a while & did so this morning. Here's my pick for today. It's always refreshing when a business finds a creative way to advertise their business. If you have come across any clever signs, I'd love to see them & would be happy to post them in this Sunday Comics series. Have a great end of the weekend!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Bad Moon Rising & a Belated Thank You to a Veteran


Thought for the Day: I found this while looking for songs that pay tribute to Veterans as part of this week's series (Motivational Monday, Wednesday's Words of Wisdom, Thursday's Food for Thought). Many of the songs I found pay tribute to fallen veterans. The one I chose included a story about a Vietnam Veteran & I decided to share it with the powerful video. Here's the story that made me pick this video:

"This one is especially for the Vietnam Vet who I met at the Mohegan Sun Casino on motorcycles earlier in the year. The one who's hand I shook and said thank you for your service and found out from him I was the first one ever to say thank you. For all Vietnam Vets Thank you for your service and Welcome Home. With Respect Ed Madejek"

I personally hate war & if I could, as a psychologist, find a way to prevent all wars I would. However, the soldiers who enlist to protect our nation deserve or thanks and support, especially when they return. No veteran should have to wait so long to feel appreciated.


The Creedence Clearwater Revival song, Bad Moon Rising, from 1969, was written by John Fogerty.

You can still take advantage of the sale of the Wake Up and Dream Challenge supporting Higher Ground's recreational rehab program for veterans.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday's Food for Thought: Clay Hunt: A Veteran's Life & Death

Thought for the Day: This week I have been writing about Veterans & how we honor & care for them. The statistics on veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, depression, & alcoholism are staggering. The numbers of attempted suicides & deaths due to suicide are also discouraging. Are we doing enough to help veterans on their return from duty? This CBS 60 Minutes clip is the story of one veteran, Clay Hunt. We must do everything in our power to prevent these losses. Two programs described in the video attempt, like Higher Ground to rehabilitate veterans. Even with participation in a program where vets volunteer using their military skills to help following natural disasters & a biking program, Clay did not conquer his inner demons. As a nation, we must be creative & persistent to make sure that adequate mental health & rehabilitations programs are available to our veterans. If you know of a program, feel free to share it here. (Click to donate 1/2 of the profits from The Wake Up And Dream Challenge to Higher Ground.)


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: JFK on Appreciation of Veterans


Thought for the Day: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy

       Last night, I watched a wonderful public television special, JFK, American Experience, WGBH/PBS. If you missed it, it is well worth searching for to view it. In light this weeks posts being focused on ways to honor our veterans (Honor a Veteran & Help Wounded Warriors Reach Higher Ground & Paying it Forward Deep in the Heart of Texas), I decided to search for a quote by JFK on appreciating our veterans & found the one above. JFK was a decorated veteran who paid the highest price to lead our country. I hope you will find ways to let veterans know that we appreciate their sacrifices for our country.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monumental Mondays: Honor A Veteran & Help Wounded Warriors Reach Higher Ground




Thought for the Day: Today is Veteran's Day. A day when we honor our veterans & thank them for what they have done for our nation. However, they need our help all year. Our veterans returning from Iraq's injuries are often less visible. We rallied to support our troupes while they were at war, but the war to fight for rehabilitation will continue for many years. Programs like Higher Ground are ready but need our support to do their good work. This year, you can honor our veterans, by buying a copy of The Wake Up and Dream Challenge. All this week there will be a special sale in honor of our veterans of the Amazon Kindle version of the book. Half of the profits will go to Higher Ground's programs which help using creative recreational rehab programs & 3 year follow up in their communities. You do not need to own a kindle to download the book. Use Kindle's free cloud reader & download the book to your computer, i-pad or smartphone. You can send a copy as a gift to a veteran or anyone who might benefit from the book. 
(Kindle Cloud Reader
Read Kindle books instantly in your web browser with Kindle Cloud Reader
All Kindle Reading Apps: Kindle Cloud Reader | PC | Mac | iPhone | iPad | BlackBerry | Android | Windows Phone 7)
To support Higher Ground's efforts to help veterans reach their dreams you can purchase The Wake Up And Dream Challenge Half the profits will go to Higher Ground supporting our recovering veterans.


To learn more about Higher Ground's program, I'd like to share a chapter from my book describing how they help wounded warriors reach their dreams as they recover from the trauma & physical injuries of war.
  
Julio and Maria
Two years after graduating high school, Julio lacked direction in his life. He felt trapped. He saw no opportunities on the horizon in his home of Puerto Rico. After much searching, Julio found a career with plenty of room for advancement—one which would bring financial stability for his family, & provide opportunities for higher education. At the age of twenty, Julio enlisted in the United States Army.

During his first years of active duty, Julio enjoyed the path he had chosen. He had a secure job with great benefits. He, along with his young family, enjoyed visiting parts of the world they might never have had the chance to see. Eventually Julio received orders; he was being deployed to Iraq. While nervous & hesitant to leave his wife & baby daughter, Julio felt honored to have the opportunity to serve his country.

While in Iraq, Julio was exposed to multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Like most soldiers, he simply pulled himself up by his bootstraps & moved forward. He ignored the chronic headaches & grogginess he was feeling. Then, while mounted atop a Humvee in Fallujah, Julio’s unit was ambushed. Julio was shot through the right eye by a sniper. The gunshot & blast exposures resulted in multiple cranial fractures, & a detached retina in his left eye.
When he returned stateside, Julio awoke from a coma & discovered he had lost 90% of his vision, & suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Julio also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) reliving his battle experiences daily. He found himself on ‘edge’ in public & dependent on others for care. Julio felt distant from his wife, & unable to handle the anxiety brought on by his three young children.
With a three-year-old daughter, a new set of twin girls, & a severely disabled husband, Maria was overwhelmed by grief, exhausted by the task of being her husband’s caretaker & trying to run a household. Her challenges seemed insurmountable. She felt guilty leaving her husband’s side for even a moment, fearful that he might experience further harm. Julio was going through the medical board process. Although confident he would eventually receive his full pay & benefits, in the meantime, Julio received only a portion of his active duty pay.
While going through treatment at the VA hospital, Julio’s caseworker told him about the—Sun Valley Adaptive SportsProgram in Idaho—called Higher Ground (HG). Julio made contact with a Recreational Therapist on the HGteam, & quickly developed a new friendship. Julio felt excited for the first time since his injury. He applied to a couple’s snow sports camp because neither he nor Maria had ever seen snow. Here was a chance for adventure. It would be a place to once again feel a sense of camaraderie with other veterans. This was a way for his wife to find the support of other spouses. They both could receive the individual attention of a team of therapists to teach them coping strategies. 
When asked what motivated him to join HG Julio replied, “I was a lifelong surfer before my injury, now I’m not able to even get in the ocean by myself. I think about it constantly. Learning to snowboard will prove to me that I’m still capable; it will show my wife she doesn’t have to always be watching over me.” In response to the same question, Maria replied, “I just want to see my husband smile again.”
Julio’s first day on the mountain taught him that he had grossly underestimated his potential. To the amazement of his instructor, he was making full runs—snowboarding from the top to the bottom of the mountain. Maria’s joy came from seeing what her husband could do independently. The staff of HG gained her confidence. For the first time in years, she was able to leave Julio’s side without anxiety. “I left Julio to go out & do something fantastic…it was the first time in years I was able to let him go; to let him be who he was before his injuries.” Maria grew increasingly comfortable at camp leaving Julio on his own.
In group therapy sessions Maria learned how to cope with her husband’s hardships. She also gained new insight into Julio’s Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Most importantly, Maria learned that Julio was capable of being an independent man.
Before leaving, Julio thanked the HG staff, saying, “I’m going home with new confidence, but more importantly my wife has been able to be herself & not worry about me constantly.” As part of the HG program, the couple came up with a goal they wished to accomplish in the next year. Julio proudly stood in front of his new unit & announced that within one year he & his Maria would have a proper wedding in front of her family in the church she once attended in the Dominican Republic.
Julio decided it was time to be proactive in his recovery & applied to a blind rehabilitation center. Six months after joining the HG family, Julio called the staff. He was so excited that he could barely contain himself. “I just got back from seeing Maria & the kids. No one came to pick me up! I left the hospital, went to the train station, walked to the house, & surprised Maria at the door. I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!” The HG staff was brought to tears when Julio said, “You have heard of the snowball effect? I believe that sometimes that snowball can defy gravity & gain momentum & mass as it rolls uphill. My snowball started on top of a mountain in Idaho, followed me home to Florida, through blind rehab, & will be with me when I stand next to my wife at the altar.”
This true story is only one of many that the team at Higher Ground proudly shares. HG is now recognized as a leader in their industry from theDepartment of DefenseThe Joint Chiefs of StaffThe Department of Excellence, & a host of military & VA medical installations nationwide. In their holistic approach to rehabilitation, HG provides therapy & support to those caring for wounded veterans. HG offers: the longest follow up program in the industry; daily therapeutic themes that provide the tools necessary to find success in life; resources nationally & in their home community; referrals to programs meeting medical, educational, familial, & social needs; a reintegration budget to continue the momentum at home; &, access to these services 100% cost free to the veterans & their supporters. In addition, HGstaff conducts research with major universities assessing the efficacy of their techniques. They also present at conferences & seminars nationwide teaching others how to conduct effective therapeutic recreation programs.
It’s the dream of the HG staff to improve the quality of care provided to American heroes nationwide! 

To support their dream you can purchase The Wake Up And Dream Challenge Half the profits will go to Higher Ground supporting our recovering veterans. The kindle version is on sale from 11/11/13 - 11/18/13.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday's Comic Strips: Useful Dog Tricks


Thought for the Day: I never owned a dog. When I was very young, my father took care of two Weimaraners for a few weeks. I was shorter than they were & when they tried to play with me I would be knocked down & frightened. My mother & brother were allergic to dogs & therefore, I never owned one. For all the dog lovers out there, here's a very funny video of some very useful dog tricks by Jesse. Hope you enjoy it & have a great end of the weekend!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Greek Music & An Operating Room Flash Mob


Thought for the Day: Today I have two music videos for you. The 1st is a wonderful uplifting performance of Greek music. There is something both soulful and joyous about Greek music. It reminds me of a wonderful vacation I had in Greece many years ago. It is hard to listen to this piece without getting up to dance!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. The second (which I was unable to get to post fully here) is a flash dance in a place you would least expect, an operating room. The woman, Deb Cohan, who organized it was on her way to a double mastectomy & danced with the entire operating room staff. Since psychological research has shown that a positive attitude is clearly associated with positive prognosis, I assume Deb is recovering well from the operation. I hope she will be dancing again soon! Have a wonderful weekend. (Don't forget to tune in at 3 PM today to Blind Matters Radio to hear me speak on how to prevent bullying of the blind & others.)

Thanks to  +MikhaiL Liakhovskiy for sharing this wonderful performance on G+.


This link will redirect you to YouTube to view Deb's Operating Room flash mob you will have to click on the page it directs you to to see it on YouTube. Sorry, I couldn't do it the normal way!


Friday, November 8, 2013

#FF Friday's Fabulous Finds: Touching Touchdown, A Lawyer Making a Difference & A Kickstart for a Movie About Bullying








Thought for the Day: I'm glad it's Friday. This week has been a good week. I was able to go for my 1st swim since surgery & it felt good to be getting back to a more active life. I have some great finds for you this week: a touching story of real sportsmanship, a lawyer making a difference in the lives of immigrants, & a kickstart program for a movie about bullying. I hope you will also tune in to ask questions & hear me speak about bullying on Blind Matters Radio tomorrow at 3 PM. Have a great weekend!

1) A run like no other: Triumphant touchdown transcends competition By JON MARK BEILUE

(Thanks to Mark Hundley from Facebook for sharing this story.)





Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday's Psychology Trivia Q & A: How Often Is a Child Bullied On Playgrounds in the USA?

Thought for Today: I have been under the weather for quite a while and dealing with what could be an Olympic luge run on my driveway and an ice rink on the parking area for my clients! The warm weather is helping, but until today, it has been icing over every night! At any rate, since it is already almost 4 PM EST, I decided to repost a Trivia article from last November. Here it is: Thought for the Day: Since I am going to be speaking Blind Matters Radio on Saturday, 11/9/2013 at 3 PM on bullying & how to prevent it among blind & visually impaired individuals, I have been doing some research on the statistics. The epidemic proportions of bullying among our children is mind boggling.  According to the National Education AssociationNational Association of School Psychologists PowerPoint on bullying, Time and Ladies Home Journal, 160,000 kids miss school every day to avoid being bullied. However, this statistic is 20 years old & the numbers are probably much higher. A more recent study reports that every 7 minutes a child is bullied on a playground. There is adult intervention 4 % of the time, peer intervention, 11 % of the time and no intervention 85% of the time. 
        Clearly despite all the talk about prevention, adults are not doing a very good job of protecting our children from bullying. I hope you will share your thoughts, concerns, & ideas, here or on the radio program to help solve this very serious problem in our country.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wake Up Wednesday: Could You & I Be Bullies?


Thought for the Day: Since I will be speaking on the Blind Matters Radio program this Saturday on bullying, I have been giving the subject a lot of thought. In my mind, bullying & prejudice go hand in hand. I was brought up in a home where prejudice was seen as intolerable. I tend to be very liberal & accepting of differences; however, I, like all human beings, tend to gravitate towards like minded people & spend more time with those who agree with me. It is hard not to feel disdain towards those that I see as "bullies." Is that not prejudice? Although I do everything in my power not to harm others, I wonder could anyone become a bully, even me? Is a zero tolerance policy that expels a child for bullying from a school not a form of bullying? Does our society, pass the buck by moving bullies from school to school, class to class or having the bully home schooled actually perpetuate the problem?

The answers to ending bullying are more complex than just a zero tolerance policy. Psychological research has found that many bullies in our schools have or are being bullied at home. Sending them home, expelling them from school may only exacerbate the problem. Are you & I bullying the bullies by not providing comprehensive therapeutic interventions that would get to the bottom of why a child is bullying his peers & help them change their behavior?

I hope you will tune in on Saturday & ask questions. I will propose some of my ideas about how to solve the epidemic of bullying. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this complex & troubling issue.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Motivational Monday on Tuesday: The Things Kids Say from A Child Is Missing


Thought for the Day: I like to have flexibility & leave room for spontaneity in life & my blog. I know today is Tuesday & not Monday, but since my knee operation, I have been a bit slower than usual. I was going to write a psychology trivia question until I opened an e-mail from one of the nonprofit organizations featured in & benefiting from my book, A Child Is Missing. Many people are aware of their work in helping to find missing children, but you may not be aware of their anti-bullying & educational programs which try to prevent abductions.  I will be speaking this Saturday at 3 PM EST on bullying prevention on Blind Matters Radio so the bullying epidemic is on my mind. Hopefully, stories like these will motivate you to get involved & do something to help prevent bullying. If all you do is pass the stories along to your friends & family, that will help raise awareness. Do whatever you can. Please share projects & ideas you have that are making a difference in your community as well. I'd love to hear them!

Here is the segment from their newsletter that I felt compelled to share fro A Child Is Missing's Newsletter:


The Things KIDs Say...

Photo by George Olsen


During the past 10 years A Child Is Missing’s Child Safety Education and Anti-Bullying Program has reached over 60,000 children. Our goal is to make sure they gain a sense on how to stay safe and how to deal with bullying throughout any situation. Although we are the instructors, there are times we learn from the stories they share which helps us curve how we teach each class:




One young girl shared that a young boy in her class kept making negative comments about her. She later told on him and he replied that the next time she did something like that he would light her on fire.
We learned to discuss more on a key point of "Seeking Help"  immediately and how important it is as a form of standing up for your self.

At that same camp, one subject was “The Safety Zone” which emphasizes how important personal space it is . A young girl raised her hand and asked, “What about the man next door?” 
At the end of the session I advised the camp counselor to contact the Mom and let her know there was a situation she should know about. This brought to light that we needed to emphasize that not only are strangers dangerous but to be aware of everyone.

At another camp, at the end of one our bullying classes, a young boy stood up and expressed , “I was going to commit suicide. But, now I know that I am not alone and I can go and speak with my parents about how I feel!”  All of the kids applauded!
The teachers while on the way back to Fort Lauderdale called from their car, telling the story in tears.They knew they saved a life.

Local law enforcement assists with the funding of these programs held at the Parks/Recreation facilities in Broward, Miami/Dade, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Delray Beach and some other locations. 
Law enforcement cares and hopefully this will encourage others to do the same!